Unlocking Value: 5 Key Indicators to Spot Undervalued Stocks

Unlocking Value: 5 Key Indicators to Spot Undervalued Stocks

Investing in stocks is a strategic way to grow your wealth over time. Yet, one significant challenge investors face is identifying which stocks are undervalued and, hence, present a good investment opportunity. An undervalued stock is one selling at a price significantly below its intrinsic value, usually due to being overlooked by investors or because of temporary issues affecting the company. Investing in undervalued stocks can offer substantial returns once the market corrects the price. This article will guide you on how to spot an undervalued stock by examining five key indicators.

Importance of Identifying Undervalued Stocks

Identifying undervalued stocks is vital for several reasons. Firstly, it allows investors to purchase stocks at a price below their true worth, offering the potential for higher returns when the stock’s price eventually corrects. Secondly, undervalued stocks often come with lower risk compared to stocks that are overvalued or fairly valued. Lastly, investing in undervalued stocks can provide a margin of safety as they often have a lower downside risk.

5 Key Indicators to Spot an Undervalued Stock

Free Cash Flow

Free cash flow is the cash generated by a company’s operations after accounting for capital expenditures. A positive free cash flow indicates that the company is generating more cash than it needs to maintain or expand its asset base. It is an essential indicator as it shows the company’s ability to generate cash, pay dividends, or repay debt. However, it is also important to consider the company's capital expenditure needs as a company with high capital expenditure requirements might have lower free cash flow.

You can get both of these metrics automatically on your spreadsheet using Wisesheets using these formulas:

=WISE("ticker", "free cash flow", year)

=WISE("ticker", "capital expenditure", year)
automatic Free Cash Flow

Price-to-Earnings (P/E) Ratio

The P/E ratio is one of the most commonly used valuation metrics. It is calculated by dividing the current price of a stock by its earnings per share (EPS) over the past 12 months. A lower P/E ratio could indicate that the stock is undervalued, especially when compared to other companies in the same industry or the market average. However, it is essential to consider other factors as well, as a low P/E ratio can also be a sign of a company in trouble. For example, a company might have a low P/E ratio because its earnings are inflated or because the market expects its earnings to decline in the future.

You can get both of these metrics automatically on your spreadsheet using Wisesheets using these formulas:

=WISE("ticker", "pe ratio", "ttm")

=WISE("ticker", "eps", year)
automatic Price-to-Earnings (P/E) Ratio

Price-to-Book (P/B) Ratio

The P/B ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s stock price by its book value per share. The book value is the value of a company's assets minus its liabilities. A P/B ratio below 1 could indicate that the stock is undervalued as it suggests that the market is valuing the company for less than its net asset value. However, it is also important to consider the company's intangible assets, such as patents and brand value, as they are not included in the book value.

You can get both of these metrics automatically on your spreadsheet using Wisesheets using these formulas:

=WISEPRICE("ticker", "price")

=WISE("ticker", "book value per share", year)

Dividend Yield

The dividend yield is the annual dividend payment divided by the stock’s current price. A higher dividend yield could indicate that the stock is undervalued. However, it is crucial to assess the company’s ability to sustain its dividend payments. A high dividend yield could be a sign of a distressed company trying to attract investors. Also, some companies might have a high dividend yield because their stock price has fallen, not because they have increased their dividend payments.

You can get both of these metrics automatically on your spreadsheet using Wisesheets using these formulas:

=WISE("ticker", "dividend", year)

=WISEPRICE("ticker", "price")
automatic Dividend Yield

Debt-to-Equity Ratio

The debt-to-equity ratio is a measure of a company's financial leverage and is calculated by dividing its total debt by its equity. A lower debt-to-equity ratio is generally preferred as it indicates that the company has a lower amount of debt relative to its equity, suggesting lower financial risk. However, it is also important to consider the industry average, as some industries tend to have higher debt levels than others.

You can get both of these metrics automatically on your spreadsheet using Wisesheets using these formulas:

=WISE("ticker", "total debt", year)

=WISE("ticker", "total equity", year)

Building a Screener with Key Indicators

A stock screener is a tool used by investors to filter stocks based on specific criteria such as P/E ratio, dividend yield, etc. Building a screener with the key indicators discussed above can help you identify undervalued stocks more efficiently. Here is how you can build a screener with these indicators using Wisesheets:

  1. Find Your Stock List: Before you start building the screener, you need to identify the stocks relevant to the industry or sector you want to analyze. For example, if you want to analyze the technology sector, you will need to find a list of technology stocks. Wisesheets uses the same ticker system as Yahoo Finance.
  2. Set Up Data Retrieval: Use Wisesheets to set up your data, as you can see in the image. LY means the latest fiscal year of data, Ly the previous and so on. The same concept applies to LQ but quarterly. You will need to set up data retrieval for the following indicators:
  • Free Cash Flow
  • Price-to-Earnings (P/E) Ratio
  • Price-to-Book (P/B) Ratio
  • Dividend Yield
  • Debt-to-Equity Ratio
spreadsheet stock screener
  1. Run the Screener: Once you have the stock list and screener set up press the get data button to get the data you selected automatically.
  2. Configure the Screener: Use Excel or Google Sheets data filters to configure the screener by setting up the criteria you want. For example, you might set up the screener to filter stocks with a P/E ratio below 15, a P/B ratio below 1, a dividend yield above 3%, a debt-to-equity ratio below 0.5, and a positive free cash flow.
undervalued stock screener
  1. Analyze the Results: After running the screener, you will get a list of stocks that meet your criteria. Analyze these stocks further to assess their growth prospects, the overall economic environment, and the industry trends. Also, consider the company's management quality, as competent management can often turn an undervalued company into a profitable investment.
  2. Make Investment Decisions: Based on your analysis, make investment decisions. Remember, investing always comes with risks, and it is important to consider your own financial situation and goals before making investment decisions.

Other Factors to Consider

While the above indicators are essential in identifying undervalued stocks, it is crucial to consider other factors as well, such as the company's growth prospects, the overall economic environment, and the industry trends. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the company's management quality, as competent management can often turn an undervalued company into a profitable investment.

Conclusion

Identifying undervalued stocks is crucial for investors seeking higher returns with lower risk. The P/E ratio, P/B ratio, dividend yield, debt-to-equity ratio, and free cash flow are key indicators that can help you spot undervalued stocks. However, it is important to consider other factors as well and to use a combination of these indicators rather than relying on any single one. Remember, investing always comes with risks, and it is important to do your own research and consider your own financial situation and goals before making investment decisions.

Guillermo Valles

Guillermo Valles

Hello! I'm a finance enthusiast who fell in love with the world of finance at 15, devouring Warren Buffet's books and streaming Berkshire Hathaway meetings like a true fan.

I started my career in the industry at one of Canada's largest REITs, where I honed my skills analyzing deals and learning the ropes.

My passion led me to the stock market, but I quickly found myself spending more time gathering data than analyzing companies. That's when my team and I created Wisesheets, a tool designed to automate the stock data gathering process, with the ultimate goal of helping anyone quickly find good investment opportunities.

Today, I juggle improving Wisesheets and tending to my stock portfolio, which I like to think of as a garden of assets and dividends. My journey from a finance-loving teenager to a tech entrepreneur has been a thrilling ride, full of surprises and lessons.

I'm excited for what's next and look forward to sharing my passion for finance and investing with others!

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